Teach a child to love learning, and they will learn forever.
The ability to work independently as well as working well with others is extremely important. Children at Gan practice these skills daily as they navigate their environment.
Teachers facilitate child interactions while modeling appropriate language encouraging children to work together in a group, to aid in conflict negotiations and problem solve together. Gan supports a curriculum of kindness, compassion and unity that encompasses throughout the year.
Language is developed with the teachers modeling and encouraging the children to talk, to listen, even to write –at every opportunity –what they’re observing or doing as they work and play. Books and literacy are an important and constant part of the curriculum and are always available. Children are also given access to writing materials and art utensils and are encouraged to experiment with them. Children are exposed visually to literacy from the moment they walk in the classroom. From their sign-in rocks, cubbies, cups with their names, and labeled items around the classroom, children are seeing written words and are acquiring literacy organically.
Eye-hand coordination and the strengthening of small muscles (particularly in the hands and fingers) are very important in early childhood to prepare children for gripping instruments and writing. It is also important for them to be able to manipulate materials in various ways as they explore and experiment. We work on these fine-motor skills by using play dough, clay, sand, blocks, art materials such as scissors, woodworking tools, small manipulative games, puzzles, writing instruments (markers, pencils), and many others.
Exercising the body’s large muscles is important because the children are still working on coordination, balance, cross body movements and more. Outdoor play is a daily part of the program, where children can run, jump, climb, slide, kick and throw balls, swing and shoot basketballs. On inclement weather days (and sometimes on sunny days too) gross motor play takes place in the large room with balance beams, hula hoops, movement to music, dancing and exercising. We also have a formal playball instructor.
Many of the manipulatives that help develop fine motor skills, as mentioned above, also teach math skills and concepts(e.g. building blocks of various sorts automatically offer lessons in balance, geometry, measurement, estimation, and other principles). Children are encouraged to count objects. This gives them a better concept of what numbers mean. Grouping, sorting, graphing, and matching are some other activities that often take place as children play in class.
A child’s life is full of real things to observe,discover and experience. They then have opportunities to make predictions, learn causes and effects, and be actively involved in science experiments. Outside,children find worms, bugs, plants, flowers, ice, and other interesting items. Each of these discoveries become its own miniature science project. In the spring, the children will see caterpillars turn into butterflies, and tadpoles turn into frogs. Watching real things happen in real time is one of the best ways to experience our wonderful world.
Exploration and expression are two ways of accessing the inner self. Art is a perfect forum to accomplish this. Art is not forced upon children but is made available in a most aesthetically pleasing way. Art activities are designed to be open-ended and process-oriented (rather than product-oriented). Children are offered different media and a large variety of tools with which they are encouraged to explore and experiment.Children also have the chance to play different roles as they interact and play side-by-side with their peers. In the dramatic play area children choose to be moms, dads, babies and animals (pets). In playing out these characters children gain vital socialization skills and recreate what they have seen modeled to them.
Music and song are an integral part of the Gan Malibu’s programs. Children will learn new songs, sing old and familiar songs,make up songs, listen to songs, and sing with and without music. Most of the time movement is apart of any music in the class. Rhythms and repetitions are subsequently introduced through music (which help math cognition).
The gardening that happens at Gan is truly “farm to table.” The herbs and vegetables grown in the garden are used regularly in meals and cooking projects. Children are hands on in planting the seeds, caring for the seedlings, and in time harvesting the matured plants. They learn about compost, worms, and the plant life-cycle. Children experience cause and effect, patience, and working together for a common goal. The garden also opens the children’s awareness to the vegetation outside the school, and in their community.